For reasons of basic physics, a collision between a large truck and a car can easily cause catastrophic injuries or death to the occupants of the smaller vehicle even when the truck driver walks away without a scratch.
Newton’s second law of motion holds that force equals mass times acceleration. In the context of a motor vehicle accident, this means the force of a collision depends on the mass and speed of the vehicle. A speeding car will cause more damage than one that runs into another car at a low speed. Likewise, a massive truck will strike with much greater force than a compact car, even if the truck is not going especially fast. A massive truck going at highway speeds will carry a tremendous amount of force, much more than a smaller vehicle going at the same speed.
With all this in mind, there is a strong public interest in making sure trucking is safe. Oklahoma and federal lawmakers have imposed a host of regulations and requirements to make sure that truck drivers are trained properly, that they are properly rested, and that their vehicles are well-maintained.
Unfortunately, these regulations can’t stop all trucking accidents. Sometimes a careless truck driver or a badly maintained truck runs into a smaller car with tragic results.
When this happens, the injured or their family members can seek justice through a personal injury lawsuit. These legal actions provide another way to discourage careless driving among truck drivers and trucking companies, and they can be absolutely crucial ways for the injured and their families to cope with the long aftermath of a terrible accident.
One way truck accident lawsuits differ from other types of motor vehicle accident lawsuits is in the parties that may be held liable.
In a typical car accident case, there is one plaintiff and one defendant. The plaintiff is the injured person and the defendant is another driver who caused the accident through negligence. A driver who causes an accident through negligence can be held liable for the damages suffered by the injured, such as their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. But, if the negligent driver was behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, the driver’s employer may be held liable as well. This means if a truck driver negligently causes an accident in which another driver is injured, the injured party may sue not only that driver, but also the trucking company, and perhaps other parties as well.
There are several reasons to expand the number of liable parties. One is simply to maximize one’s chance of being compensated fairly. Because truck accidents are likely to cause serious injury, the medical expenses and other damages resulting from them are likely to be enormously costly. A negligent truck driver alone may not have the resources to compensate the injured or their families. However, the trucker’s employer most likely has a substantial insurance policy that is capable of paying the full amount of damages.
That said, it’s important to note that simply because trucking companies and their insurance providers have deep pockets does not mean it is easy to get them to pay. Their pockets are deep enough to pay well-trained lawyers to make plaintiffs fight hard for every dollar. It can be crucial for the injured and their families to have help from a lawyer with experience in truck accident litigation.